When resolving those brick walls that we all get in our genealogy a big mistake by many genealogist is not doing their homework, coming up with a plan and then following it. Genealogist spend a great deal of wasted time of not looking at the full picture.
The first step in resolving your brickwall is to determine what you are actually looking for with your ancestor. Make sure you are specific on what you are attempting to learn. Broad goals although helpful do not normally help in resolving brick walls. Evaluate what you have already found and where you have looked to resolve this problem. Don't assume you have looked at everything. Don't think you are the expert. When we do this it closes are thoughts to new sources. One example of this is Family Search that adds almost five million new sources a week.
Check to see what information is available to help you with your problem. Read on the subject on the Internet. Create a library of books that will help you in these situations. Attend local meetings and share with those in the group what you are dealing with. Watch videos or participate in online seminars. The chances for further learning are endless. It is also constantly changing. Don't assume you have looked everywhere. Educating yourself to new sources and methods is critical to your genealogy success.
Make a list of sources or records that you can consult to resolve your problem. Make sure you are able to find sources that help you. You won't find a vital record other than marriage in Michigan prior to 1850, because they just weren't kept. You are going to have to look in other sources. Cemetery markers, death notices, probate, guardianship and military records to name a few.
Put the problem away for a while a come back to it. In my own research fresh eyes looking at the problem allows me to look for new ways to resolve the problem.
Remember all the answers are not always on the Internet. Majority of records are still offline. Make a phone call write a letter. These methods still work and are often the only way to find new information.
Make sure to document what you have found and sources that you did not find the information. Many times records that don't make sense now will make more sense as we find more information.
More on this topic later. As always I look forward to your thoughts and ideas.